The Berlin Conspiracy. London Police.
London, Friday, April 8, 1853
At the time of writing my last letter concerning the great conspiracy discovered by Mr. Stieber[a], I could not anticipate, that my views on that affair would be more or less confirmed by two Conservative Berlin papers. The Preussisches Wochenblatt, the organ of the Conservative faction headed by Mr. von Bethmann Hollweg, was confiscated on April 2d for recommending its readers "not to believe too hastily in the tales of the police respecting the late arrests."[b] But of far greater importance is an article in the Zeit, the semi-official journal belonging to the section of the Prussian Ministry headed by M. von Manteuffel. The Zeit is compelled to make the following admission:
"Whosoever is not struck with blindness, cannot but be aware that the numerous and inextricable complications presented by the general situation of Europe must lead in a given time, to a violent explosion, which the sincere endeavors of the Great Powers of Europe may postpone for a while, but to prevent which in a permanent way they are utterly unable, notwithstanding all human exertions… It is for us the accomplishment of a duty not to dissimulate any longer, that discontent is spreading wider and wider and is the more dangerous and the more deserving of serious attention, as it appears not at the surface but conceals itself more and more in the depth of men's minds. This discontent, we must say without paraphrase, is created by the efforts to bring about a counter-revolution in Prussia latterly paraded with an incredible étourderie."[c]
The Zeit is only mistaken in its conclusion. The Prussian counter-revolution is not now about to be commenced, it is to be ended. I t is not a thing of recent growth, but began on March 20th, 1848, and has been steadily advancing ever since that day. At this very moment the Prussian Government is hatching two very dangerous projects, the one of limiting the free sub-division of real property, the other subjecting public instruction to the Church. They could not have selected two objects more appropriate to alienate the peasantry of Rhenish Prussia and the middle classes throughout the monarchy. As a curious incident, I may also mention the forced dissolution of the Berlin Hygienic Society (A Mutual Benefit Sick Club), in consequence of the "great discovery." This society was composed of nearly) 10,000 members, all belonging to the working classes. The Government, it appears, are convinced, that the present constitution of the Prussian State is incompatible with "hygienics."
The London press, till now unconscious of the doings of the London police, are surprised by statements in the Vienna Presse and the Emancipation[d], the leading reactionary journal of Belgium, that the police of London have drawn up a list of all the political refugees in that city, with a variety of details relating to their private circumstances and conduct.
"Once such a system is tolerated with regard to foreigners," exclaims The Morning Advertiser, "it will be employed whenever deemed advisable by the Government, or any member of it, in order to become acquainted with the details of the private lives of our own countrymen.... Is it not saddening to think that the London police should be called upon to play the infamous part assigned to their continental colleagues?"
Besides these statements in Belgian and other papers, the London press is this day informed by telegraphic dispatch from Vienna,[e]
"that 'the Refugee question is settled: the British Government has promised to keep a strict guard on the refugees, and to visit them with the full severity of the law whenever it should be proved that they have taken part in revolutionary intrigues.'"
"Never before," remarks The Morning Advertiser, "did England appear in so humiliating a situation as she does now, in having prostrated herself to the feet of Austria. No degradation could equal this. It was reserved for the Coalition Cabinet."[f]
I learn from a very creditable source that the law officers of the Crown will institute a prosecution against Mazzini as soon as his sojourn at London shall be ascertained. On the other hand I hear that the Ministers will be interpellated in the House of Commons with regard to their scandalous transactions with Austria, and their intensions on the refugee question in general.
I have stated in a former letter that Radetzky was glad to have been afforded, by the Milan insurrection, a pretext for "obtaining money under false pretenses."[g] This view of the matter has since !wen confirmed by an act not to be misunderstood. In a recent proclamation Radetzky has declared null and void all loans or mortgages mortgages contracted since 1847 on the security of the sequest rated estates of the Lombard emigrants. This confiscation can have no other possible excuse than the horror vacui[h] of the Austrian exchequer. The sentimental bourgeoisie have everywhere sacrificed the revolution to their god called Property. The counter-evolution now repudiates that god.
A sub-marine telegraphic dispatch of to-day brings the news that Prince Menchikoff has concluded a convention with the Porte, that I he Russian armies have received orders to retire from the Turkish frontiers, and that the Eastern question is once more settled.
Written on April 8, 1853
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3748, April 21, 1853;
reprinted in the Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 825, April 22, 1853
signed: Karl Marx
See this volume, pp. 28-31.—Ed.
"Die neuesten Verhaftungen und Haussuchungen in Berlin", Preussisches Wochenblatt, No. 25, April 2, 1853.—Ed.
"Die Contre-Revolution", Die Zeit, No. 77, April 3, 1853.—Ed.
L'Emancipation, No. 94, April 4, 1853.—Ed.
The report cited below was published in The Times, No. 21395, April 6,1853 and reprinted in several other newspapers on April 7.—Ed.
The Morning Advertiser, No. 19279, April 7, 1853.—Ed.
K. Marx, "The Attack on Francis Joseph.—The Milan Riot.—British Politics.—Disraeli's Speech.—Napoleon's Will" (see present edition, Vol. 11, pp. 513-21).—Ed.
Fear of vacuity.—Ed.
An allusion to the swing to the right of the liberal bourgeoisie already in the early days of the March 1848 revolution in Prussia. Immediately after the uprising in Berlin (March 18) the bourgeoisie hastily organised a civic militia to counterbalance the revolutionary insurgent workers. Engels described the situation in Prussia at the time in his work Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany, pointing out that "the alliance between the bourgeoisie and the supporters of the overturned system was concluded upon the very barricades of Berlin" (see present edition, Vol. 11, p. 36).
Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12
(pp.37-39), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979